Extreme Distress

By K. Kendall, in conversation with Mary Nichols and Sandy Polishuk

On 11/15/11, the night after eviction, Lucky and other Occupiers flew the flag of distress at dusk. Tribes and other Occupy refugees gathered in anticipation of the first scheduled assembly without a camp. At 7pm that night, the Tribes Caucus joined the Spokes Council. Caption and Photo by Mary Nichols.

According to standard US Flag etiquette, “Always display the flag with the blue union field up — never display the flag upside down, except as a signal of extreme distress.”

And yet since 9/11, the US Flag upside down has been used as a symbolic sign of distress. Some Occupiers feel that these are times of extreme distress. In New Haven,  in Portland, and in encampments around the country, some Occupiers have chosen to display the US flag hanging upside down as a symbol of extreme distress:

–the distress of the families and loved ones of the 558 people a year who die in Oregon because they don’t have health insurance;

–the distress of one in four homeowners who are now “underwater” on their mortgages;

–the distress of the houseless, expected to reach 74,000 by 2013 if something isn’t done NOW;

–the distress of 16.4 million children currently living in poverty in the USA, a country that for years proclaimed itself the “richest nation in the world”

–the distress of the 99% who suffer because of dwindling funds for education, lack of services for the mentally ill and elderly poor, lack of funding for arts, music, and physical education, lack of child care for working mothers, cuts in human services at every level…

because of the unbridled greed of bankers, financiers, and those who defend tax breaks for the very rich.

For many, these are times of great distress globally. Indian activist Arundhati Roy hopes the Occupy movement will prove itself to be not merely about conditions in the USA, but a “movement against an international system of global finance that is manufacturing levels of hunger and poverty on an unimaginable scale…” Perhaps we should fly every flag of every country in the world upside down.

  6 comments for “Extreme Distress

  1. Patricia Stidham-Burns
    December 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    The way the country is going and the Years of hardship people will have to suffer at he hands of our own government ALL FLAGS should be in a continuous state of being upside down. THE COUNTRY IS IN A PERPETUAL STATE OF DISTRESS!!!!

  2. December 2, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    We have a new reason for extreme distress now. With the passing of the Defense Bill today, we are all subject to arrest without trial or due process, no Miranda, no habias corpus, no rights whatsoever, indefinitely under the “SUSPICION” of Domestic Terrorism. The laws on the books describing domestic terrorism are incredibly inclusive, and could be interpreted to include just about every single American. By these new laws, they do not have to respect any of our constitutional rights. Look it up yourself, and WAKE UP. The military will be roaming our streets. They have declared American soil a “Battlefield”. This just got real bad.

    • December 2, 2011 at 2:02 AM

      From the FBI’s website, This is a domestic terrorist:

      Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.

      Think it through, they have made it unlawful for protesters to gather. Our protesters, petitioners, activists and many many citizens are attempting to coerce the government in furtherance of political or social objectives. We are trying to reach out to others, and enlighten them. We are trying to

      Here’s the FBI Web address http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005.

      It is the most recent description available, as under the new patriot act law, We are not allowed to know what the description of a domestic terrorist is. But this video raises many concerns:


      Defense Authorization Act:

      And here are some videos from Congress floor. Their long, but the best way to get info yourself.

      You can scroll through the transcripts looking for keywords to skip most of it.

      So, please do not e-mail yell at me. I am trying to help. I support OWS and all the occupations around the world. I am part of the 99% as well. I am simply trying to alert everyone to the possibility that these laws will be interpreted maliciously. Will all law enforcement and makers see them this way? No. Will some. YES. Will our military turn against us? Look at the cops. Is it constitutional? HELL NO. That means we need to be even more united than ever.

      Whenever I get upset over something the government does, my mom in all her wisdom says “Don’t worry, THE PEOPLE won’t stand for it”. She quite understands that we are the people, and we are all included in the people.

  3. M. Gray
    December 2, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    Patricia, here’s a link to the bill you’re referring to. Can you please note the section and paragraph numbers that you’re concerned about?

  4. M. Gray
    December 2, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    No way to just edit these things? The last link was the section I thought was being referenced. Here’s the whole thing… http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112%3AS.1867.PCS%3A%2F

  5. December 2, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    I believe it was amendment 1031 but will look to try to make sure of that. There were two amendments proposed to strike the literature that included American’s on American soil, but both failed.

    Best way I see to edit this is to demand that all senators who voted for it be removed from office. Here’s a petition.


    NOTE: I have been warned that it is a shopping list for the DHS and DOJ. I signed anyway. If your afraid, it’s all the more reason to sign.

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